The Mommyhood Life – Travel, Crafts, Food, and Florida Family Fun

Holidays

4 Must Have Items for a Fun and Sparkling Holiday Girls Night ~ Plus a Dirty Shirley Cocktail Recipe! #SparklingHolidays

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Every year around the holidays, my closest friends and myself all get together for a fun girls night in.  It’s a nice relaxing night in the middle of a very stressful time of year when us girls take a night to simply focus on ourselves and having fun with each other.  We have a simple grab gift, some yummy appetizers and sweets, along with a signature cocktail.

We take this time to unwind, laugh, and act silly while the forgetting about our endless shopping lists, decorating, and all our other holiday errands for the night.
Must Have Items for a Fun and Sparkling Holiday Girls Night:
1.  Yummy Appetizers, We are all escaping our mommy and wifely duties to unwind.  Having something delicious to refuel us is a must.
2.  Small Grab Gift, Nothing that is going to add extra stress to the group, just something small to get everyone giggly and having fun.  One year we did a silly socks theme, another was strange ornament themed.
3.  Games,  We want to unwind and what better way to unwind than with all your friends playing a round of twister or Jenga kid free!
4.  A Signature Cocktail,  No one has time to fully stock the bar and having one festive drink keeps things simple.
This year I was in charge of the signature cocktail and I chose to make an simple yet pretty Dirty Shirley cocktail, featuring DASANI Sparkling Water in Berry flavor.  This was a great refreshing and yummy cocktail that we all enjoyed.  All the girls were excited about using DASANI Sparkling water as our drink mixer, the holidays are overly indulgent as it is, finding a cocktail mixer that has Zero calories, is unsweetened, has zero artificial colors, and to top it off is caffeine-free is a great way to prepare a cocktail for girls night.
Dirty Shirley Cocktail Recipe:

Cocktail Ingredients
2 cups of DASANI Sparkling Water in Berry Flavor
1/4 cup of Strawberry flavored Vodka
Splash Grenatine
Garnish
Cherries
Sugar Crystals
If you would like to rim the glasses, add the colorful sugar crystals to the glasses.  Next fill a glass with ice, add DASANI Flavored Water, Strawberry Vodka, and grenadine.  Then stir and add cherries.
That’s all, no in-depth prep work.  Simple and quick so everyone can make their own cocktails all night.
Ready to make some yummy Dirty Shirleys this holiday season?  Head over to Walmart  and pick up a 12 pack of the 12 ounce cans of DASANI Sparkling Water!
Sparkling flavors available are Lime, Berry, Lemon, and Black Cherry.

The Christmas Pickle Tradition!

We have started a new Christmas tradition.  The Christmas Pickle Tradition!  I am so excited about this, I am always looking for fun ways to make more memories during the holidays with kids and The Pickle Tradition does just that.
I had heard my family joke with my father about hiding a pickle at Christmas over the years , because he is German and I guess they had heard about a German version of this tradition.  However we never took part in it and I never understood how anyone would hide a pickle.  For some reason I was imagining an actual pickle and couldn’t comprehend making my house smell like dill pickles for Christmas day.  
Well the jokes on me, The Christmas Pickle Tradition set showed up on my doorstep and I am in love with this adorable tradition and so excited to be starting it with my children.  They are excited about the potential to win an extra gift.
Here is how The Christmas Pickle Tradition works:
Enclosed in the kit is;
Pickle Ornament
A Note from Santa Claus
Annual Pickle Finder Tracker
The Pickle Tradition Book
A Note From Santa,
Leave me the Pickle.  To hang on your tree. By the milk and cookies. Is where it should be. When the morning time comes. No sneaking, be smart! You must wait for your family. For the search to start. On the count of three. Little feet start to run.  The search for the pickle.  Has finally begun! The lucky child. Who spots it on the tree.  Will receive the first present. A gift just from me.
The book tells the story of one of Santa’s mischievous elves, Pickle, and how he learns about the magic of giving over the Christmas season.
The Christmas Pickle Tradition retails for $29.99 and is available at ChristmasPickleTradition.com 
This is such a fun set and the kids cant get enough of the book and hearing Pickle the elf’s story.  This will be our first year hiding the pickle and we cant wait to start this great tradition that will surely last for generations!

We Can All Make a Difference for the Greater Good! #WishesDelivered

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of UPS. All opinions are 100% mine.

Earlier this week I shared an amazing campaign that UPS has created, #WishesDelivered.  This initiative is making wishes a reality for people in need during the holiday season.
People like Mr. Brown, who has been working to help people around the world his entire adult life.  From putting books in the hands of children in Africa, to the White House, he works for the greater good of the world, and UPS delivered his wish!
Also meet the ladies of Handmade Especially For You, these women knit scarves and donate them to battered women.  Bringing comfort, peace, and new beginnings to victims of domestic violence.  UPS delivered their wish too!
How can we help?
Share a Wish Story!  Think about a person in your community that is making wishes come true and making the world a better place.  Then visit the UPS #WishesDelivered and tell UPS about how this person is making a difference.
&
Share a Wish For Good!  Post your own wish for the greater good on Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #WishesDelivered #WishesDelivered Site between November 10th and January 1, 2016.
For each wish story shared with the hashtag #WishesDelivered, UPS will donate $1 to one of their charity partners! They are donating up to $150,000, that is a lot of wishes granted!
A Wish Story from My Community:
Earlier this week I also shared with you my wish for the greater good, I wish everyone would have a bed to sleep in this winter, food in their stomachs and a roof over their head.  No family should have to wonder where their next meal will come from or where they will sleep each night, especially during the holiday season.
Today I’d like to share with you a Wish Story about a man in my community who makes a difference not only in our town or state but nation wide, every single day!  
Billy ‘Inkslinger’ Pfaff founded Heroin is Killing My Town, and 
through this initiative Billy has become a miracle to countless individuals.
  He goes out into the areas unseen by most and makes a difference.  You can follow his mission on the “Heroin is Killing My Town” Facebook page, and watch as he goes into wooded areas where he knows the homeless are living in tents and brings sleeping bags and food.  He goes under bridges that are littered with needles and offers help with an open heart.  He finds beds for people who need rehab and gets total strangers they help they need.  He saves lives everyday with a passion unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.
 These people are making incredible steps to change the world for the greater good, now lets help!  Join me and lets get our stories and wishes shared, What’s your wish?

Visit Sponsors Site

Nana’s Almond Squares Recipe and My Big Lots Haul! #BIGSeason

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BIGSeason #BigLots #CollectiveBias
My fondest memories growing up are the ones of me learning to bake in my Nana’s kitchen.  She taught me to make Italian cookies, peanut butter balls, almond squares and so much more.  Leaning to use an electric mixer, grease the pans, and of course do the dishes.  She taught me life lessons of domestication in such a way that it made me fall in love with the art of baking.  That was just the way she was though, in all aspects of life.  She was my Nana, my mentor, and my best friend.

So when I got married she gave me one of the best gifts I could have ever asked for, her cookbook!  Called The Joy Cooking, this cookbook is stained, the pages are yellowed from age, and the binding is held together with duct tape, however this is my most coveted cookbook because each stain brings a memory of my Nana back to me and the duct tape well that’s just an extra signature that it was hers. It a prized possession that never leaves my kitchen, family members have asked to borrow it and I can’t stand to part with it so the only thing I can commit to is photo copying the recipes needed.
However with the cookbook, also comes the responsibility of doing a lot of the family baking.  There are two main desserts that she always brought to holiday parties, her Italian cookies and her almond bars.  My uncle will usually take on the Italian cookies, thankfully because my kids eat up the dough so fast that I never get any cookies actually cooked.  I am in charge of the almond bars, and they have always been a favorite of both my brother and I.
As soon as Thanksgiving is over I immediately start to think about my holiday meal planing and all that comes with it, from the almond squares that need to go to parties, to decorating cookies with the kids, and Christmas dinner.  Once my food list is sketched out, my first stop is Big Lots.  I remember several years ago, a Big Lots opened in our town and I was ecstatic.  
I’m a shopper, I love to spend time putting around stores that have a wide array of products.  Big Lots not only has so many things to look at, they also are always getting new and fun merchandise.  I can find a unique gift for a friend, a beautiful serving dish, and my baking ingredients all in one place.  
Last week I grabbed a coffee and set out on a Big Lot’s shopping trip,  I was able to pick up a couple Purex pans with covers that will work out perfectly for transporting all my baked good to parties.  I also found an adorable “I love baking” spatula, 2 Christmas hand towels, a holiday sign that I fell in love with, a snowman plate, and pretty Christmas mason jar mug.
*Disclosure: styles and assortment vary by store*
All this was before I even stepped into the huge grocery section throughout the middle of the store!  I was able to find everything I needed to make the Almond Squares for this weekend.  Sugar, Vanilla, Shredded Coconut, everything I had on my shopping list and everything was within my budget!  This is why my Big Lots is my first stop when planning for the holidays, I am able to get so many high quality ingredients and they’re all at a great price.
Once I got home on a shopping high from the great values I found, it was baking time!  The only thing that trumped my fun shopping finds that day, was pouring the almond extract into a bowl and making my entire kitchen smell like Nana.  
These are a delicious dessert idea, I’m sharing the recipe in the midst of the holiday baking rush.  So make sure you give these a try!
Nana’s Almond Squares


Ingredients:
3/4 cups butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 cups flour
Shredded Coconut to top


Preheat oven at 350 degrees

Melt butter, then mix together the butter and sugar.
Add eggs and mix for several minutes, until creamy. 

Add salt, vanilla, almond extract, and flour, and mix until well combined.

Pour into a greased pan, sprinkle top with shredded coconut, and cook for 40 minutes. 

Be sure to check out the large variety of baking and meal preparation items at Big Lots.  I’d love to hear what you love to make during the holidays!

   

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